We are living in difficult and frightening times. This past weekend, white supremacist and neo-Nazi violence left three dead and many more injured in Charlottesville. Only weeks ago, hateful racist words directed towards an African-American school employee were scrawled on a wall at Tamalpais High School.
As reported in the IJ, the last six months have seen an uptick in hate incidents in a number of Marin schools. Each time, the local school communities have endeavored to heal by professing wonderful intentions to continue to promote inclusion, equity and tolerance on campus.
But these acts of violence keep happening — here at home and nationally.
We must ask: What sort of culture have we created in Marin that supports hate? Are we being honest with ourselves when we congratulate one another for being one of the most progressive counties in the country?
How does the de facto segregation in our neighborhoods contribute to the problem?
How about our vehement rejection of affordable housing proposals?
The unwillingness of many of our local political leaders to take steps to formally protect our immigrant communities from Immigration and Customs Enforcement harassment?
The statehouse in Sacramento showcases dioramas for each California county. The diorama of Marin has no people, only beautiful redwood forests, ocean vistas and the San Rafael mission.
Why do we care so deeply for the environment, yet forget the indigenous people who are here now and have lived on this land for centuries? Aren’t our human resources in all their diversity just as important?
We must understand acts of hate, whether in Charlottesville or those recently committed in our own communities, within the context of our country at large.
National political leaders and institutions promote hate towards people of color, immigrants, women, Jews and members of the LGBTQI and disability communities. If the internet has moved us in the direction of a global community, it is also a tremendously effective messenger of hate and prejudice, to which our youth are vulnerable spectators.
It can be tempting to believe kids write hateful words for the shock value — that they don’t fully understand the harm they are causing. However, this way of thinking prevents us from seeing the bigger picture of institutional inequity that promotes and furthers individual attacks.
And it doesn’t help the situation to state, as one school official did in response to an episode of anti-Semitism this year, that these incidents are isolated or don’t happen here.
Unfortunately, believing in a post-racial world does not make it so. So, how can we deepen our efforts to both take racial inequity seriously and work towards racial healing in our communities?
This November, Marin will hold its second annual Equity Summit to discuss strategies to promote equity in education, employment, health, food security, housing and homelessness, race and segregation and immigration. This year, leading up to the summit, United Marin Rising, in partnership with a number of county agencies and grassroots organizations, will host a workshop series titled Race Matters.
These free events will bring together folks from diverse backgrounds to explore racial disparities in access and quality of resources, and to work towards cross-cultural alliance building.
Let’s work together to address the causes of the current rising tide of hate and foster the compassionate and inclusive county we all want to live in.
Debra Taube of San Rafael is active as an advocate for a statewide “sanctuary” law. She is a longtime Marin resident, a psychotherapist in private practice in San Francisco, and a social justice activist, working with United Marin Rising and SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice) Bay Area. Tamela Fish of San Rafael is also a member of United Marin Rising.